It's been a long, protracted wait for the planned follow-ups of Avatar, James Cameron’s Oscar-winning sci-fi epic that hit screens nearly a decade ago. The first of the four sequels was initially supposed to roll out last year, but was later pushed to December 2018. Then, in March, Cameron confirmed that date was also out of reach.
Much of the delay has been attributed to the execution. Rather than tackling each film one at a time, Cameron is approaching the project as one massive undertaking — an ambitious strategy given his continued quest to push the technological limits of filmmaking. Conceptually, Avatar is already an elaborate project, and incorporating time-consuming, cutting-edge digital effects will only waylay its progress.
For now, at least, the franchise is taking some steps forward. Zoe Saldana, who stars as Na'vi princess Neytiri, confirmed to Screen Rant exclusively that the team begins filming this summer. She said:
"We haven't shot it yet. Anything I can tell you about Avatar 2,3,4,5? We're going to start this summer. Late summer, and it's probably going to go all the way until early next year shooting, and I'm really excited about it."
Her comments come on the heels of early reports that the movies are set to start shooting in August, though until now, that news was largely speculative. With filming officially locked in, it's feasible that Avatar 2 could make its way to screen in 2019, even if it's toward the back half of the year. As a comparison, the original Avatar started filming in April 2007 and hit theaters in December 2009. Technology has advanced a great deal since then, which could potentially speed up the process.
That Avatar 2 will likely arrive a decade after the original is actually unsurprising. Cameron spent roughly 10 years shaping the first film, and this time around, he's mapping out four. However, the fact that the movies will be shot in succession and then put through production suggests a more streamlined time frame for the subsequent three. Assumedly, much of their major infrastructure is already in place, and at least some scheduling has been tentatively penciled in.
Regardless, Cameron taking his time may actually be a vote of confidence for the franchise. Cleary, he isn't in a rush to cut something together simply because he has momentum; it seems he wants to get the story right. Avatar was a massive cinematic feat, and fans can expect the same for its successors. When the franchise finally does return, it should be worth the wait.
- Avatar 2 (2020) release date: Dec 18, 2020